-- The Colorado Avalanche fulfilled Ray Bourque's elusive dream and captured their second title in six years with a 3-1 victory over the defending champion New Jersey Devils in the decisive seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Alex Tanguay, who was born a month after Bourque made his NHL debut in 1979, collected two goals and an assist as Colorado raced to a 3-0 lead and held on to dethrone the Devils.
Until Saturday night, the 40-year-old Bourque had appeared in more regular-season and playoff games (1,826) than anyone in NHL history without capturing a championship. He spent his first 20 1/2 years with the Boston Bruins and made two Stanley Cup Finals appearances. But the five-time Norris Trophy winner sanctioned a trade to the Avalanche 15 months ago and finally realized his dream as Colorado won the first Stanley Cup Finals Game Seven in seven years.
"It feels great and it's just going to get better," Bourque said. "I really had a tough time holding everything back, right off the national anthem. Really emotional, I couldn't let it go and it was tough to keep it together. We found a way to do it, and I couldn't let it go until the end, until the final buzzer."
Avalanche captain Joe Sakic took the Stanley Cup from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and immediately handed it to Bourque, who held it over his head, a broad smile across his face, before kissing it twice.
"To allow me to grab it that quick from him says it all," Bourque said.
"I talked to him before the year started, before training camp, and I told him we were going to win and I wanted him to be the first one to lift it," added Sakic. "This has been a goal from day one. After what he has accomplished in his career, he is the one who deserved to lift it first."
While Bourque waited four decades to carry the Cup, Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy became the fourth player to win a championship in three different decades. Briefly the goat after his puckhandling mistake cost Colorado Game Four, Roy gave up just one goal in the final two contests and became the first three-time winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the postseason.
"For a little boy from Quebec, I never thought that would happen," said Roy, who won his first Smythe Trophy with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986. "It is not as special, to be honest with you, as seeing Ray raising that Cup in the middle of the ice, see his eyes, how excited he was. These are individual honors, they are always fun to get, don't get me wrong, but there is nothing better than winning."
Roy, who claimed his fourth title, is one of six holdovers from the Avalanche team that won the Cup in 1996. Sakic, one of the others, scored his league-leading 13th playoff goal in the second period.
The 21-year-old Tanguay was one year away from playing junior hockey when the Avalanche celebrated their first championship. But he became the third player -- and the youngest -- to record three points in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
"I never believed in seeing the Cup before I won it," Tanguay said. "Never seen it, never touched it before tonight. This is really heavy and this is really unbelievable."
Playing the last two rounds without All-Star center Peter Forsberg, Colorado prevented the Devils from becoming the fourth franchise in the post-expansion era to win three Stanley Cups.
Petr Sykora scored the lone goal for the defending champions, who wasted a chance to end the series at home on Thursday night when they were blanked by Roy, 4-0.
"I thought we competed better than we did in Game Six, but the thing that inevitably beat us was the same thing that we have been guilty of the whole series -- taking stupid penalties, needless penalties," Devils coach Larry Robinson said. "You are playing against a great team and you are punching guys in the face for no reason. This is the seventh game of the Finals. If you can't suck it up for the seventh game of the Finals, then you've got problems.
"All that aside, I am very, very proud of this team. We came through a lot of adversity over the year. The team had a tremendous year. I mean, how much farther can you go?" New Jersey was outscored in its four losses, 15-2, and became the fourth team to squander a three games to two lead in the Stanley Cup Finals.
"When you win it in the seventh game of the Finals, the better team wins," Devils center Bobby Holik said. "I've got to give them credit because they won the last two games. It wasn't by accident. We scored one goal. That's a helluva hockey team."
Tanguay gave Colorado a 2-0 lead 4:57 into the second period, becoming the sixth player to score twice in the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Defenseman Adam Foote, coming off a three-point effort in Game Six, banked a clearing attempt off the boards and by Devils defenseman Colin White. That sent Sakic in on a breakaway, but he was stopped by Brodeur. The rebound caromed to an unchecked Tanguay, who buried an off-balance shot into a half-empty net.
"No better feeling than this," Tanguay said. "As a kid, you always dream of being the one scoring the goals at this time, but this is unreal. ... I am a very pleased kid."
Things got even bleaker for New Jersey 3 1/2 minutes later, when defenseman Sean O'Donnell, a healthy scratch in the previous two games, was penalized after shoving his fist into Shjon Podein's face. Just 25 seconds into the ensuing power play, Sakic faked a slap shot in the right faceoff circle and threaded a wrister through defenseman Scott Stevens' legs and into the top right corner of the net.
It was Sakic's fourth goal of the series and gave the Avalanche a power-play tally in six of the seven games.
Just 2-for-24 in the first six games, the Devils used a set play to convert just 11 seconds later. Off a faceoff, Jason Arnott passed ahead to Patrik Elias at the Avalanche blue line. Elias quickly sent a cross-ice feed to Sykora, who shook free from Bourque and snapped a shot between Roy's pads for his 10th playoff goal.
It ended a shutout streak of 91 minutes, 28 seconds for Roy, who proved unbeatable the rest of the way. He turned aside Elias' short wrister from the left side, stopped Ken Daneyko's blue line shot through traffic and gloved Elias' quick wrister off a faceoff with just over five minutes left.
A couple of minutes earlier, Arnott wiped out a potential Devils' power play when he got a phantom tripping penalty seconds after a delayed holding penalty was signaled on Messier.
In the third period, Roy smothered Alexander Mogilny's wrist shot from the right side, helped kill two power plays and got his right pad on Sykora's shorthanded flip from the right side that turned out to be the Devils' last gasp.
"We had a lot of opportunities, it just wasn't in the cards for us," veteran New Jersey defenseman Ken Daneyko said. "Roy played unbelievable.
"Everybody played their hearts out and I'm proud of everyone in this room. I just feel bad for the guys like Beezer (John Vanbiesbrouck) and the guys who never won before."
Following the game, Vanbiesbrouck announced his retirement, ending a 20-year career.
After an expectedly tense start, the Avalanche scored first for the second straight game, beating Brodeur on their fifth shot. Tanguay took the puck of the left corner, skated around the net and emerged on the right side, turning at the bottom of the faceoff circle and putting a wrister over Brodeur's left shoulder.
Brodeur had come out to cut down the angle, but his stick got caught up in defenseman Brian Rafalski.
After ending a 12-game goalless drought, Tanguay scored in the each of the series' last three games.
"Alex kind of hit the wall around Game Four," said Avalanche coach Bob Hartley, who won the Cup in his third season behind the bench. "He is still a young pup. ... It was not time to give him the hammer or to put him in the doghouse. We needed him. He responded like Alex Tanguay can respond."
Just before Tanguay's fifth playoff goal, Roy made back-to-back stops on Scott Gomez. With 7:46 to go in the opening period, Rafalski's shot from the left point failed to reach the net, but the puck squirted loose to Elias. Elias could not get much on a backhander and Roy, leaning forward, extended his left pad to preserve the lead.
Gomez took a penalty for holding Chris Drury in the offensive zone at 16:06, giving the Avalanche their second power play. Seconds after the penalty expired, Sykora nearly tied it for New Jersey when he ripped a 50-foot slap shot off the left goalpost.